Under new management

27 Oct

My favorite coffee shop is not making the transition all that well–they were out of most pastries and only had one type of quiche, the internet was slow, the tables were not very clean, and the fire had not been lit. But I was just glad it was open again, so I asked for a rag and offered to get the fire going. I’m sure they’ll get it together–the customers are loyal, and it’s a great atmosphere, with the fireplace, a windowsill for cooling muffins, a vegetable and herb garden along the outside wall, and an attached dance studio/performance space.

At home, I’m turning one third of the household chores over, officially, to my resident son and daughters, which I see as more than fair, as there are three of them and only two of us parents, and now we will all be working. I have been warning them, pleading with them, and finally reinstated a chore chart, in anticipation of my getting a teaching job, but they weren’t convinced of the urgency of transitioning early. Today I was offered and have accepted a just over half time position, taking over the the teaching of two biology classes and one environmental science at our local alternative high school–my dream job. The previous teacher, whom I have only seen in passing as I headed to the job interview the other day, has decided that this position and where she is at right now in life are not compatible.

The interview was relaxed and the scripted questions were interspersed with banter. Joining the principal, were a para-educator, and the secretary/certificated sub/para ( and all around school anchor person, according to a colleague who had worked there before). The principal confessed that he had removed about eighty percent of the questions. Those remaining weren’t particularly evocative. I suspected I was the only candidate, though I did not inquire. In lieu of a portfolio, I had brought snacks–a mix of dried fruit I had produced myself. They joked that the para, hired the year before, had neglected to do that. I could see these were a neat bunch of people–all very different in personality, but cohesive and mutually supportive. In comparison, the three who had interviewed me at a different school weeks back were lackluster.

They turned to the questions on the handout. I didn’t feel very clear in my mind, and what I had wanted to say did not fit the script. The rehearsals  with my husband in the days leading up, in contrast, were inspired—for example, how one of my goals as a teacher—here I choked up–was to inspire some of my students, especially those with a different way of viewing the world, and those who knew about hard knocks, to be teachers themselves. How the students in alt ed programs were the ones who had driven the process of creating them, and were to be heartily thanked, not seen as failures. How I am uniquely suited to this position because I am both creative and purpose driven. But my solo monologues in the car got more muddled as the time got nearer, and so I busied myself with other things–getting the house clean for a team dinner, making apple cider, paying bills. Que sera sera.

As I waited to see if I got the job, I didn’t quite know my own mind. Tired from an extra workout, feeling a pain in the neck from using my laptop in bed, doing chores, running errands, wondering when the word would come, and even how I felt. It would be a tough transition, from choosing my days off to mandatory daily work, from following sub plans to scoping out my own from whatever resources were available, sharing a classroom with three other teachers and subjects, and connecting with a classroom full of students who were there because of problems they’d had in the regular school setting. The students themselves would have to process the change, surely wondering why and how it had come about. I felt unfazed by the relationship part—that’s changed for me from the old days—but I would have to be more organized, protect my health and sleep, help my family adjust, get all the paperwork done and be ready to come home and pitch in. And of course–this is a given–I would give it my all, in the way of working smarter (or more wisely), not harder. First year back would not be anything like my crazy first year teaching, but there would be some of the same challenges. One challenge would be to be selective and realistic about the wild, ambitious ideas coursing through my brain about all the field trips, experiments, cool projects, special speakers, and community service opportunities I wanted to do with the students.

It was dinner time when I got home, and I still hadn’t got any calls. Had they seen my letter to the editor on testing opt out and got cold feet? Why would that matter to the staff of this school, of all schools? Then I saw the email offering me the job. I began to know my mind. A sense of gratitude, anticipation, excitement, and peace. My family were all so glad, feeling this really was the right place for me to begin work. While I got my mind around it, and so I wouldn’t rush about filling boxes with stuff to bring to my classroom which there might not be room for anyway, I took on a major apple juicing and canning task. By the time that was done I was ready to make a few prep notes and questions and email all the people who needed or would want to know the news.

I take over Monday, and the principal said he would just pretty much let me alone while I got things started, which I want. I’ll spend time this week meeting other staff, getting paperwork done, planning, organizing, and making more dried apples.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Education, Places & Experiences


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One response to “Under new management

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    October 28, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Great piece of writing–stands on its own merits–outside of the content–and terrain it explores. Love the sentences, the voice of it–and how the disparate strands end up being a weave, a tapestry, leading to a sense of completion and wholeness, clarity. Nice work on the writing—and awesome work on getting the job!


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